FATPHOBIA AT NEW YORK FASHION WEEK // we have a lot of work to do
Before you see the word “fatphobia” and roll your eyes… don’t. Hear me out.
A year and a half ago, one of my readers responded to my Instagram story where I mentioned I hated the word FAT… and she straight up told me I was fatphobic. In the moment, I got defensive. I swiftly explained to her that the word FAT was extremely hurtful to me and caused me a lot of pain. And that I shouldn’t have to hear that word if I don’t want to.
And then this year, something magical happened. I started to process those feelings and really dig deep. Why was I letting this word that hurt me so bad in the past rule my life now?
She was right. I was fatphobic. I was scared of the F word… BEING that word. LOOKING that word. FEELING that word. Everywhere I looked in my life, I had been taught that it was a bad thing.
But here’s the real talk you guys. The word FAT is an adjective. I have been working so hard on body acceptance, so why was I not allowed to look in the mirror and embrace my fat body?
I’ve come a long way since when I first started this blog. I’ve always been on a mission to empower women, especially those of us who have been so greatly under-represented in the media. But if you told me when I started this whole thing that I’d be USING THE WORD FAT IN A POSITIVE, or heck, even NEUTRAL matter… I would have thought you were crazy.
Alas, here we are. Right now I’m on a journey to reverse all of the damage and shame that’s been so deeply rooted into all of our souls for being fat.
Someone asked me this morning, “What would you say to my daughter if she came home crying because someone called her fat?”
Here’s my answer:
First of all, my goal is to raise my daughters to know their worth has NOTHING to do with the size of their body. So my hope and prayer is that my daughter wouldn’t even be bothered by such a comment. But if she were, you know what I’d say?
“Smart girl. Look in the mirror. See the body you have? That’s the only one you’ve got. It’s strong, it’s healthy, and it’s yours… no one elses. Our bodies are meant to change, and sometimes that means there will be a lot of fat on your body which is BEAUTIFUL. And sometimes that means you won’t have so much fat, which is also beautiful.”
And then I’d also show her images of smart, beautiful, successful fat-bodied women. “She’s fat, and look at how much she’s living her life. She’s just as happy as any thin woman I know.”
Destroying the weight stigma in our country has got to become a priority. And for that to happen, WE HAVE to stop shying away from using the words FAT or SKINNY as describing words. By not using them, or saying “Oh, you don’t look fat, don’t worry…” - it’s only encouraging SHAME around these words.
So I’ve been working through my inner fatphobia for awhile, and I’ve made major strides. But it wasn’t until Saturday that I really experienced it so blatantly.
That morning, I was invited to an Adam Lippes presentation. He makes beautiful chic clothing and I’m actually wearing one of his dresses here. His sizing is extended to a US 20, which I was excited about. (Full disclosure: 11Honore gifted me this dress).
I threw on this fun cardigan because it was chilly out (you’d better believe this Atlantan was PUMPED!!) and headed to the presentation. When I got there, I had to walk a few blocks and I suddenly noticed that something was happening.
As I walked, there were groups of women in front of me and behind me. Street style photographers were shooting everyone, even if they had a tshirt and jeans on. But as I walked by, they’d lower their cameras. Then as soon as I would pass, they’d start shooting again.
At first I thought I was just being paranoid. Until it happened on the next block again. And again. And then it happened AGAIN when I left the presentation (which was also disappointing because of the zero plus size representation).
I even had a few photographers stop me and compliment my look, but not take my photo.
Listen. As much as I hate the feeling of being left out, I do not need my photo taken to feel valid in the fashion industry. But this behavior was SO incredibly blatant that I couldn’t see past it.
Once I got to my hotel room later that afternoon, I was scrolling my feed and saw a few other plus size fashion bloggers mention the same thing and I realized I wasn’t making this up in my head. This had REALLY happened to me. And then I got pissed.
You know what’s almost worse, though? The amount of plus size fashion bloggers who have given up. If you’re one of them and you’re reading this… GET IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA. I know it’s not that easy, but we can’t stop showing up. I’m so glad Lydia Hudgens is out there campaigning for us all, but there needs to be more representation. Have you scrolled the street style galleries? For every 30 women there might be 1 who is plus sized. And yes, there are a lot of them there - walking the streets just like every skinny person.
That evening, I went to my first round of shows at Spring Studios and once again… my heart sank. I saw the Ashley Longshore mural that really got to me. I shared it with you all via stories, and I’ll be sharing more about my thoughts on this plus your anonymous responses so be on the lookout for that. I also experienced the same behavior with photographers - different outfit, different location.
BOTTOM LINE: Fat babes are just as beautiful as skinny babes, and thanks to emerging designers we can finally dress how we want to as well. Please stop excluding us.
I’m writing this because I don’t want to forget how I felt. I’m writing this because I know there’s a lot of you out there who feel the same way. I’m writing this because we need to be seen and heard, and most of all represented.
Do not read this and feel bad for me. I am fine. But having this experience has ignited a fire within me and I will not stop fighting for plus size fashion.
Fatphobia isn’t something made up to cause a fuss. It’s real. But we have to keep showing up and confronting it head on or nothing will ever change.
We need more representation on the runway. We need to be acknowledged in an environment that is telling us we aren’t worthy.